Whilst census returns have revealed many long-lost souls there was still the matter of many thousands of British (English, Scottish, Welsh & Irish) subjects who remained unaccounted for. Some of them would have been merchant mariners or Royal Navy subjects away on the highs seas or folk who simply upped and emigrated. A great number were army personnel.
Compiled from musters contained in WO 10-11-12 War Office Paylists held at the National Archives, Kew, the 1861 Worldwide Army Index lists all other ranks subjects serving in the April-June Quarter of 1861 together with their regimental HQ location. The index is effectively a military surrogate for the 1861 census taken on 7 April 1861.
The index consists of over 243,000 lines indicating army number, rank, first and last names, regiment and regimental HQ location. This index does not contain the names of commissioned officers as in 1861 their names were excluded from the Paylists. Officers might nevertheless be identified in the 1861 edition of the published Army Lists. The index also points to previous service in other regiments. Thus 638/3528 Pte Thomas Rigby 36th (Herefordshire) Regiment of Foot has two numbers indicating service in more than one unit up to 1861. Details of the other unit might be found in earlier musters showing a transfer and/or in surviving soldiers’ papers.
The 1861 edition also includes over 7700 names of British soldiers who were serving in India in 1861 but were anticipated to transfer to the British establishment in 1862 and over 14900 additional notes.
Colonial regiments which invariably had numbers of British subjects are also included.
Many thousands of men of the British Army were serving overseas in far flung parts of the British Empire over many decades of the 1800s. Many of those serving in 1861 could well have been born as early as 1820 whilst others who joined in the census year might well have continued their service as late as 1882, exceptionally 1887.
If a male subject cannot easily be found in the 1861 census then he may not be where expected; or in Ireland (where there is no 1861 census equivalent); serving in the navy or abroad. There is a high probability that he was serving in the army.
1851 and 1871 Worldwide Army Indexes are also included in the Forces War Records collection. Please consult the relevant index introductions prior to searching.
The work of Roger Nixon in compiling this collection is greatly appreciated. His hard work has created a comprehensive record of the men that served in the British Army during this period.
Please be aware that due to the way we collate, and cross reference our databases, some records will contain more information than that listed above.
Original Source: Reproduced by courtesy of Roger Nixon